Better understanding of the needs, habits and behaviours of shoppers and consumers needed, conference hears.

FMCG suppliers need a better understanding of the differentiated needs, habits and behaviours of shoppers and consumers, attendees at the London Produce Show at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel have been told.

Nick Kirby, eCommerce, Shopper and Analytics director at category and shopper management specialist Bridgethorne, said that suppliers need to recognise that for the vast majority of sales, the shopper will not be the only consumer of the purchase, and that shoppers have different needs to the consumers of products.

“The consumer and the consumption need and occasion is likely to be focused on the consumption experience and will have both functional and positive emotional attributes, for example, health or refreshment,” he explained.

“These needs could be fundamentally different from those of the shopper who could be focused on anything from managing their household budget, whether the family will like what is being purchased to the noise of the shopping experience itself. There is also the complexity that a supplier’s shoppers could be interested in a depth of detail about a particular product, whilst the customers of a retailer could be interested in more than one product.”

If not properly considered, Kirby continued, these factors can lead to misalignment and the wrong product solution being available and the wrong message being communicated at the wrong time to the wrong person.

“In some way, this contributes to the fact that, even though the majority of shoppers claim they know what they want to purchase prior to entering a store, research has shown that almost 20% of shoppers buy on impulse from categories which they had no intention of buying before entering the store. Ultimately, a lack of shopper focus will result in wasted investment,” he added.

Kirby went on to explain that businesses needed to be clearer as to how they influence the buying process and making it easier for shoppers to buy. This, he said, demands an approach that’s entirely different to traditional consumer oriented communications, with its focus on awareness and benefit-led performance.
“To influence purchase decisions at a vital time, understanding how shoppers behave throughout the purchase journey is critical. Only then does it become possible to identify the most influential touchpoints, optimise messaging according to its role and place in the purchase journey, and implement the right incentives to close the sale.”

He also set out a belief that there are no such people as just online shoppers, just convenience store shoppers or just supermarket shoppers; that there are simply shoppers, choosing to buy from different stores depending on their shopping mission, the consumption occasion, their lifestyle, their previous experiences and the ability of a retailer to meet their needs and expectations.

“People are consuming media in a different way, so there is an opportunity to shorten the path to purchase by sending shoppers direct into retailers. The result is a fragmented path to purchase with a greater number of points at which shoppers can be influenced by a greater number of messages and purchase choices.”

“Despite 100% of revenue coming from shoppers, the vast majority of shopper marketing bolts on to either consumer or customer activity. If there is a disconnect between the two, there will be a misalignment of budgets and spend will be sub-optimal. So, in today’s highly competitive retail environment, the shopper must be at the heart of commercial planning in order to complete the missing link in a fully aligned plan.”

Bridgethorne is a category, shopper and sales specialist devoted to helping FMCG suppliers drive profitable growth for their brands. The company transforms data and research into practical and dependable insight on which suppliers can act with confidence. The Bridgethorne team provides consultancy, research, training and outsourced services to get products onto the right retail shelves and into shoppers’ baskets.